A tour of Paris from the heads of the city's alumni chapter


Credit: John S. Dykes

Paris is at its most rejuvenating on a lazy Sunday. It's a day when you won't miss American efficiency or curse France's infamous bureaucracy. Paris—always, but especially on a Sunday—is a place where enjoying life is prioritized, says Zachary Gurard-Levin, A&S '05, one of the approximately 200 alumni who spend their days among the streets and squares of la Ville Lumière. Gurard-Levin and Sheila Isanaka, A&S '03, Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, Paris chapter, co-presidents, offer their version of the perfect Sunday in one of the most remarkable cities in the world.

After a leisurely grasse matinée and coffee, choose one of two culture infusions: the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a museum that features exceptionally curated contemporary photography exhibits, or the Paris Catacombs, a riveting underground maze of artistically stacked human bones transferred from above-ground cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries. "While I'd consider this off of most standard tourist routes, there will still be a line, so arrive early or be prepared to wait," says Isanaka.

You'll want a quick pick-me-up afterward—a perfect excuse to head to Paris' tiny Île Saint-Louis, home to the decadent homemade ice cream shop Berthillon (a five-minute walk from the photography museum; 45 minutes from the catacombs). Try the wild strawberry sorbet. Next, walk north past the Place de la Bastille monument, which honors the country's lesser-known 1830 July Revolution, to the open-air Marché Bastille for exquisite cheeses and fresh fruits and vegetables. Continue up Boulevard Richard Lenoir, and you'll soon come to the beautiful Canal Saint-Martin, a favorite gathering spot of Parisians for picnics along the canal banks. Top off your bursting belly by heading west to Rue des Martyrs for your final stop: chocolatier Henri Le Roux, one of the best makers of salted butter caramels in Paris.

Most restaurants in Paris are closed on Sundays; Gurard-Levin says that "for an excellent, affordable dinner with fresh ingredients purchased from local markets," Chez Toinette or Miroir, both in the 18th arrondissement, are open later in the week.

Posted in Alumni

Tagged alumni, travel, alumni chapters